LifeWay Research: More Than Half of Americans Have Read Little or None of the Bible

Many Americans say they own a Bible and have a positive view of it, but not many make a habit of reading it, a new LifeWay Research study has found.

Church leaders have become increasingly worried about biblical literacy and the results show why.

“Most Americans don’t know first-hand the overall story of the Bible—because they rarely pick it up,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, in a news release. “Even among worship attendees less than half read the Bible daily. The only time most Americans hear from the Bible is when someone else is reading it.”

LifeWay Research, which is based in Nashville and is part of the Southern Baptist Convention, surveyed 1,000 people for the study.

Few have a systematic plan for reading the Bible and more than half of Americans have read little or none of the Bible, the study shows.

Not surprisingly, the study found that those who attend church regularly are more likely to read the Christian scripture daily. Women are more likely than men to read the Bible and Protestants are more likely than Catholics to read it. Evangelicals are more likely to read the Bible than those without evangelical beliefs. People in the Northeast are more likely to never pick up a Bible than those in other parts of the country.

LifeWay Research also surveyed Protestant senior pastors and found that most give free Bibles to those who need them and emphasize the importance of reading the Bible.

McConnell said churches need to help people recognize how reading the Bible can change their lives if they invest more time in doing so.

“Scripture describes itself as ‘living and effective,’ according to the book of Hebrews,” he said. “Those who have a habit of reading through the Bible a little each day say they have experienced this helpful, life-changing quality. Those who approach the book differently tend to say the Bible is positive but much less personal.”

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